Branford, Oak Hall, Newberry dominate small school All Area volleyball team

All area volleyball small school 2023
Branford's Kennedy Walker (left) and Williston's Grace Dola were named to the Bosshardt Realty All Area small school first team.
Graphic by Seth Johnson/Photos by C.J. Gish

Editor’s Note: This is the first of three stories unveiling the 2023 Bosshardt Realty All Area Volleyball Team.

The Branford Buccaneers volleyball team made history for their program this season, advancing all the way to the 1A state championship game in Winter Haven.

And while the Bucs lost in four sets to Baker to finish as state runner-up, it was another milestone for the Branford community to cheer about, following up the Bucs softball team advancing to the 1A state championship game last May for the first time. 

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Branford is honored for its 25-5 season by having three players named to the Bosshardt Realty All Area Volleyball Team for small schools.

Senior Outside hitter Kennedy Walker is a first-team selection while junior middle blocker Madison Ward and junior setter Andi Sabourin were named to the second team.

Walker led the Bucs with 289 kills and 356 digs as the leader of this Branford team.

“Kennedy Walker is a true team player,” Branford coach Mendy Sikes said. “She was willing to play anywhere and do whatever she needed to do to help our team. She always put her team before herself.”

Newberry's Hannah Templeton with a set against Valdosta (GA) on Sept. 14.
Photo by C.J. Gish Newberry’s Hannah Templeton with a set against Valdosta (GA) on Sept. 14.

Ward was third on the Branford team with 209 kills and added 45 blocks, and Sabourin led the Bucs with 796 assists and tallied 291 digs.

“Madison was a true leader,” Sikes added. “She was the voice on the court and her leadership was a huge contribution to our success.

“Andi is by far one of the best setters around. Her commitment and hard work are to be respected. She was always one of the first to arrive and last to leave. She set the pace for our team.”

Newberry joined Branford at the 1A state semifinals in Winter Haven. The Panthers lost to Branford in the final four round, but they still made their third trip to the semifinals in five years. Newberry leads the way with three first-team selections and four overall.

Senior Middle blocker Sarah Watson was one of the team leaders all season and is joined on the first team by senior setter Hanna Templeton and junior libero Malana Kennard.

“Sarah (Watson) set the season record for blocks with 170 in a season and was second in the state of Florida in blocks.” Newberry coach Hank Rone said. “She was the best blocking middle to ever play at Newberry.

“Hanna (Templeton) set the school record for assists in a season with 789. She is the first player at Newberry to be named a FACA All-Star. She has had a great career and will be hard to replace.”

Watson holds an offer from William Patterson University and Templeton has offers from Lenoir-Rhyne College and Centennial University.

Hailey Tharp is Newberry’s second-team representative.

“Hailey set the season high record for kills with 359 in a season,” Rone added. “She had a great senior campaign and has a heart of the champion and will be playing at the next level, probably at the JUCO level. She will also have a great track season if she stays healthy.”

Oak Hall was the third North Central Florida team to advance to the Class 2A state semifinals, where they lost to Boca Raton Christian. But with a 25-5 record, the Eagles have plenty to be proud of.

Junior opposite/setter Cassidy McDonald was named to the first team.

Oak Hall's Cassidy McDonald with a hit against The Rock's Natasha Kidd on Oct. 12.
Photo by C.J. Gish Oak Hall’s Cassidy McDonald with a hit against The Rock’s Natasha Kidd on Thursday.

“As the team leader in assists, aces and service points as well as being in the top three in kills, blocks, and digs, multiple coaches and media sources nicknamed her “The Swiss Army Knife” because she had so many tools to beat you with,” Oak Hall coach Perry McDonald said. “Cassidy’s unrelenting style and competitive drive helped fuel our season and second final four appearance in three seasons.”

Senior outside hitter Pene Moser paced the Eagles in kills and was named to the second team.

“After tearing her ACL and having it surgically repaired in January of 2023 Pene (Moser) rehabbed and worked tirelessly to try to return for her senior season at Oak Hall,” Perry McDonald said. “She went on to lead our offense with 312 kills.”

Senior opposite Ave Scorpio was also a second team selection.

“Ave (Scorpio) was an outstanding senior leader this year,” Perry said. “Her proficiency at the net helped Oak Hall to their highest win total in over a decade.”

Outside hitter Grace Dola of regional finalist Williston and middle blocker Jailyn Simmons from another regional finalist, Union County, round out the first team.

Senior Dola led the Red Devils with an eye-popping 429 kills and also led Williston with 58 aces while adding 16 blocks and 254 digs.

Simmons, a sophomore, led the Tigers with 245 kills while chipping in 108 blocks and 29 aces.

Also on the second team are Dixie County middle blocker Hailey Moody (160 blocks and 120 kills) and Union County libero Jurney Crim (421 digs).

Union County's Jailyn Simmons with a hit against Bell's Jodi Waddle (5) and Dacy Graham (15) on Tuesday.
Photo by C.J. Gish Union County’s Jailyn Simmons with a hit against Bell’s Jodi Waddle (5) and Dacy Graham (15) on Oct. 17.

1A/2A – 1st Team

OH – Grace Dola, Williston

OH – Kennedy Walker, Branford

MB – Jailyn Simmons, Union County

MB – Sarah Watson, Newberry

Opp/Setter – Cassidy McDonald, Oak Hall School

Setter – Hanna Templeton, Newberry

Libero – Malana Kennard, Newberry

1A/2A – 2nd team

OH – Hailey Tharp, Newberry

OH – Pene Moser, Oak Hall

Opp – Ave Scorpio, Oak Hall

MB – Hailey Moody, Dixie County

MB – Madison Ward, Branford

Setter – Andi Sabourin, Branford

Libero – Jurney Crim, Union County

Honorable mention

Bell – Mae Collett (Sr.), Gracelyng Joiner-Solis (Fr.), Alaina Thomas (Jr.), Rylee Johnson (Jr.), Anna Hutto (Sr.)

Branford – Jadyn Mosely (Sr.), Anabella Dicks (Fr.), Kayley Johnson (So.), Erika Rioux (Jr.).

Chiefland – Allison Alvord (Sr.), Riley Davies (So.), Lauren Bailey (Sr.), Claire Horne (Sr.), Trinity DeWees (Jr.), Anna Jane Meeks (So.).

Countryside Christian – Sam Keith (Jr.), Alison Scarborough (Sr.), Delaney Robertson (Sr.)

Dixie County (Cross City) – Paris Williams (Sr.), Jaicee Brown (So.), Kailey Edmonds (Jr.), Jaidyn Brown (Sr.), Riley Whitaker (So.)

Fort White – Savannah Parnell (Sr.), Jayda Plasencia (Sr.)

Newberry – Chloe Jones (Jr.), Cayla Phillips (Sr.)

Oak Hall – Sara Duggan (Jr.), Sarah Miller (Jr.), Sophie Thompson (Jr.).

Union County (Lake Butler) – Layla Barber (Jr.), Indi Knox (So.), Jordan Hendricks (Sr.), Kamryn Southerland (Jr.)

Williston – Chanitey James (Jr.), Morgan Geiger (Sr.), Shayna Geiger (Sr.), Jenna Yancey (Sr.)

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